A Kingdom Of Stargazers: Astrology And Authority In The Late Medieval Crown Of Aragon by Michael A. RyanA Kingdom Of Stargazers: Astrology And Authority In The Late Medieval Crown Of Aragon by Michael A. Ryan

A Kingdom Of Stargazers: Astrology And Authority In The Late Medieval Crown Of Aragon

byMichael A. Ryan

Hardcover | September 15, 2011

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Astrology in the Middle Ages was considered a branch of the magical arts, one informed by Jewish and Muslim scientific knowledge in Muslim Spain. As such it was deeply troubling to some Church authorities. Using the stars and planets to divine the future ran counter to the orthodox Christian notion that human beings have free will, and some clerical authorities argued that it almost certainly entailed the summoning of spiritual forces considered diabolical. We know that occult beliefs and practices became widespread in the later Middle Ages, but there is much about the phenomenon that we do not understand. For instance, how deeply did occult beliefs penetrate courtly culture and what exactly did those in positions of power hope to gain by interacting with the occult? In A Kingdom of Stargazers, Michael A. Ryan examines the interest in astrology in the Iberian kingdom of Aragon, where ideas about magic and the occult were deeply intertwined with notions of power, authority, and providence.

Ryan focuses on the reigns of Pere III (1336–1387) and his sons Joan I (1387–1395) and Martí I (1395–1410). Pere and Joan spent lavish amounts of money on astrological writings, and astrologers held great sway within their courts. When Martí I took the throne, however, he was determined to purge Joan's courtiers and return to religious orthodoxy. As Ryan shows, the appeal of astrology to those in power was clear: predicting the future through divination was a valuable tool for addressing the extraordinary problems—political, religious, demographic—plaguing Europe in the fourteenth century. Meanwhile, the kings' contemporaries within the noble, ecclesiastical, and mercantile elite had their own reasons for wanting to know what the future held, but their engagement with the occult was directly related to the amount of power and authority the monarch exhibited and applied. A Kingdom of Stargazers joins a growing body of scholarship that explores the mixing of religious and magical ideas in the late Middle Ages.

Michael A. Ryan is Associate Professor of History at the University of New Mexico. He is the editor of A Companion to the Premodern Apocalypse and coeditor of End of Days: Essays on the Apocalypse from Antiquity to Modernity.
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Title:A Kingdom Of Stargazers: Astrology And Authority In The Late Medieval Crown Of AragonFormat:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.39 inPublished:September 15, 2011Publisher:CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESSLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0801449847

ISBN - 13:9780801449840

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Traveling South

Part I. Positioning the Stars, Divining the Future

1. Prophecy, Knowledge, and Authority: Divining the Future and Expecting the End of Days

2. For Youths and Simpletons: The Folly of Elite Astrology

3. The Iberian Peninsula: Land of Astral Magic

Part II. A Kingdom of Stargazers

4. Kings and Their Heavens: The Ceremonious and the Negligent

5. To Condemn a King: The Inquisitor and the Notary

6. A Return to Orthodoxy: The Ascension of Martí I and the End of an Era

Epilogue: An Unfortunate Claimant: Jaume el Dissortat, the Rise of the Trastámaras, and beyond the Closing of the Ecumene

Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

"Michael A. Ryan's superb book provides a hitherto unexplored vision of the transformations of the worlds of magic and astrology in the Crown of Aragon and elsewhere in the late Middle Ages and, most significantly, a most original reading of how these "mystery" traditions underpinned the search for legitimacy in the Spanish eastern realms. It is an ambitious book, firmly grounded in a comparative perspective and knowledge of the sources. It opens new vistas on, and understanding of, the relationship between astrological and magical cultures and political power. A brilliant effort!"—Teofilo F. Ruiz, UCLA